Gentrification is re-emerging as a dominant and pervading social problem in contemporary cities, leading to rapid social change in neighbourhoods and the loss of rich local cultural activities and institutions. Much of the academic focus has been on relatively well-known urban sites such as Hoxton, Brick Lane, Brixton, Soho and Haggerston in London (Hubbard 2016; Sanders-McDonagh et al. 2016).
The south coast is an important site for analysis because gentrification is relatively new and rapid there; but also because the seaside of the south coast has a place specific mix of factors that produce gentrification including: new digital, creative and cultural industries; specific dynamics around age; particular flows of capital due to its proximity to London and global connectedness; geographical connections to London through, for example commuting; and celebrated forms of retrograde nostalgia. In addition, the south coast is home for marginalised/precarious groups like benefit claimants and asylum seekers, with the latter concentrated geographically due to processing centres in Kent and Croydon (Lees and McKiernan 2012; Millington 2008). Thus, gentrification on the south coast is situated in already complex connections of class, mobilities and culture (Burdsey 2016).
There are significant gaps in knowledge in relation to the ways in which gentrification produces populations that, through their everyday social and cultural activities, are identified as ‘outsider’ and ‘local’ populations; and the consequent excluding of people from social and cultural activities. Accordingly, this innovative studentship will generate original knowledge by exploring the ways in which these processes and impacts of gentrification have very particular social and cultural manifestations on the south coast. One of the supervisors (Burdsey 2016) has recently identified how research into social and cultural change on the south coast has focused on ageing issues linked to retirement, while ignoring recent changes linked to race, migration and class.
The research will use mobile methodologies developed by one of the supervisors for studying people ‘in place’ whilst recognizing their mobility (Murray et al. 2016). These ethnographic methods will explore how people living in urban areas on the south coast experience gentrification.
The skills required by the applicant will be:
- a good first degree in sociology, geography or cultural studies (essential)
- ability to design and execute an ethnographic study (essential)
- knowledge and experience in mobile methodologies and/or creative methodologies (desired)
- knowledge of debates on gentrification and urban difference (desired).